This week Conservative Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s unveiled his summer budget – probably one of the most eagerly awaited economic speeches for decades.
I don’t say that lightly as quite simply, Mr Sunak’s budget speech was so important for the future of thousands of businesses and jobs – with the media hanging off every last detail.
So, what did we get? I don’t think I am far off saying that we saw a budget of balance. With the cost of furlough and other bailout initiatives in recent months, there was never going to be a vast array of huge Government giveaways.
However, we did see a series of targeted measures to help several industries who are on their knees following lockdown back in March. The key takeaways were good news for the housing market, employers and the hospitality sector.
There has been a high-profile, temporary rise in the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 and this will undoubtedly boost the housing market which had simply stalled during lockdown.
What is also to be welcomed are the plans for a £1,000 bonus for employers who retain staff previously on lockdown. Whilst this amount probably won’t make a massive difference to an employer who has no choice but to save costs, it is something to cling onto.
The third big headline, above the announcement for the new ‘Kickstart’ jobs scheme, was perhaps the VAT reduction for certain sectors such as the hospitality industry. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t welcome that as it takes the pressure off an industry that has been hit as hard as anyone.
It is difficult to say if we are through the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, and many will suspect we aren’t, but this week the Chancellor went some way to helping people and industries who were, and still are, massively at risk.
We should all hope the measures put in place will support them to get back on their feet, increase sales and get customers back through the door. We have to start the rebuild somewhere and this latest phase will help prop up those who need it most.